On April 2, more than 18,000 people from Bexar County and beyond descended upon the Central Library and Southwest School of Art in downtown San Antonio to attend our 4th annual SABF. It was a day for the books and the feedback we have received–from authors, media, Festival goers, and sponsors–has been overwhelmingly positive. Mayor Ivy Taylor, who featured her Book Club selection, The Book Thief, in a morning session, described the event as “pretty much nirvana.” Even the weather cooperated and gave us a beautiful day! The 2016 SABF was the literary event that San Antonio deserves. Readers of all ages united with local, regional, national, and international writers to celebrate ideas, books, libraries, and literary culture.
From our author lineup announcement on February 9 to advanced coverage leading up to the Book Festival to post-Festival write ups, the Book Festival and our featured authors were covered extensively in outlets like the Rivard Report, San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio Current, San Antonio Magazine, and others. We were also very fortunate to be selected for KSAT community spotlight coverage, which meant SABF promotional clips (view a sample) aired on KSAT 12 throughout the month of March in anticipation of the Book Festival.
Here are some of our favorite in-depth pieces on the Book Festival:
- March 30 – “In Its 4th Year, the San Antonio Book Festival Outdoes Itself (Again)” – San Antonio Current
- March 30 – “S.A. Book Festival is a Literary Feast” – San Antonio Express-News
- March 31 – “Previewing San Antonio’s Book Festival’s Gay Author Panels” – Out in SA
- April 1 – “An Editor’s Guide to the San Antonio Book Festival” – Rivard Report
- April 1 – “Authors lash out with fighting words at death match” – KSAT.com
- April 2 – “Fourth San Antonio Book Festival Delights Thousands” – Rivard Report
As a bonus, if you missed the Book Festival, the Current (also our Literary Death Match media partner) posted a photo gallery, so be sure to check those photos out!
AT A GLANCE
The Book Festival is made up of many moving parts and their synergy is what makes SABF a success and a dynamic event for people of all ages. Some highlights from the 2016 Book Festival:
- 96 authors participating in 70 sessions
- Approximately 500+ volunteers, including more than 60 committee chairs who help organize SABF
- 300+ children brought by organized non-profit groups
- 200+ students brought by organized school groups, including a group of 40 high school students who made the drive from Brownsville, Texas to attend SABF
- 12 organizations creating activities for young readers in the Holt Family Children’s Reading Tent (ARTWORKS, the DOSEUM, San Antonio’s museum for kids, the SAN ANTONIO MUSEUM OF ART, SAYSÍ, SAN ANTONIO BOTANICAL GARDEN, SPAREPARTS STUDIO, SOUTHWEST SCHOOL OF ART, BARNES & NOBLE, MAGIK THEATRE, THE CHILDREN’S BALLET OF SAN ANTONIO, THE CHAMPIONS OF SAN ANTONIO, SAN ANTONIO PUBLIC LIBRARY FOUNDATION, LITERACY CARAVAN, and the Olé EXPRESS-NEWS History in Motion RV)
- New activities offered in Geektown, the Book Festival’s space for teens, such as a photo booth and flip book booth provided by PARTY TIME PICTURES, KSAT spinning wheel, scavenger hunt, bingo challenge, Scrabble station, word wall, GeekBus, and the SAPL V.R.O.O.M. van.
- $3,000 awarded by the Texas Cavaliers to the winners of the 2016 Fiction Contest and the 1st place winners’ schools (view winners here)
- 50+ exhibitors in our Festival Marketplace and along Augusta Street (several exhibitors reported an increase in sales from last year)
- 10 food trucks
- Increase of 7.3% in visitors to the Central Library from last year’s SABF (SAPL estimates it might be the highest attendance to the library ever)
- More than 1,600 library items entered circulation (increase of 3.1% from last year’s SABF)
The authors are the stars of the San Antonio Book Festival and this year SABF drew international, national, regional, and local talent. The most well-attended sessions were the following:
- “All the Single Ladies” session featuring authors Kate Bolick (Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own) and Rebecca Traister (All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation) and moderated by Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly
- “Shadow Country: Murder & Race in 19th Century America” featuring Kali Nicole Gross (Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso) and Skip Hollandsworth (Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer) moderated by Robert Rivard of The Rivard Report
- Stephen Harrigan (A Friend of Mr. Lincoln) in conversation with John Phillip Santos
- Sonia Manzano on Becoming Maria
- Pam Muñoz Ryan (Echo) in conversation with Viki Ash
Author session topics were vastly diverse this year. SABF panel discussions focused on the border and the various objects brought across, Latino characters in young adult literature, comedic memoirs, women’s choice to delay or steer clear of marriage, bold literary voices from Mexico, murders in 18th century America, Civil War-era Texas novels, writing about taboo lives, finding the humor in breakups, and gay men writing about their reckoning with the place where they grew up.
Once again C-SPAN’s Book TV recorded sessions in the Central Library’s auditorium. You can view those sessions here.
Our opening event to the Book Festival is the Book Appetit salon-style dinner. This year’s event was held at the St. Anthony Hotel on April 1 and drew a crowd of 120 as well as some SABF authors. Stephen Harrigan (A Friend of Mr. Lincoln) and Thomas Mallon (Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years) were the featured speakers, and Dan Goodgame moderated the discussion.
Book It luncheons were a new addition to the Book Festival. This year we offered four opportunities to dine with a Festival author: Kate Bolick (Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own) at a private home and Sarah Bird (A Love Letter to Texas Women), H.W. Brands (Reagan: The Life), and Skip Hollandsworth (Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer) at Club Giraud. All four luncheons were sold out and we received an overwhelmingly positive response for these fundraising luncheons.
Literary Death Match, our celebratory conclusion to the Book Festival, drew 400+ to the Charline McCombs Empire Theater. Jamie Brickhouse (Dangerous When Wet) was crowned the 2016 LDM San Antonio champion, beating out fellow contestants Sara Benincasa (D.C. Trip), David Crabb (Bad Kid), and Joaquin Zihuatanejo (Fight). LDM is always a crowd pleaser and this year’s program succeeded in bringing the laughs. Zach Anner (If At Birth You Don’t Succeed), Coleen Grissom (The World According to Coleen), and Sandra Valls judged the event.
It takes an army of generous donors and volunteers to make the Book Festival a success. We are grateful to all our 2016 SABF donors, event planning chairs, governing board, advisory committee, and the hundreds of volunteers who help us run the event. The Book Festival is a gift to the City of San Antonio; it helps San Antonio grow as a literary destination, strengthens our vibrant literary community, and makes the literary world accessible to all!
You can relive the fun through our photo gallery here.